Thousands of people, big spending expected in Roanoke for marathon, concerts

The Blue Ridge Marathon continues to grow in size as weekend events get underway

ROANOKE, Va. – Concerts and races in Roanoke this weekend are expected to bring in thousands of people and hundreds of thousands of dollars to the area. It's one of the biggest weekends of the year for people outside the area to spend money in the Roanoke Valley.

The Down by Downtown festival is already underway, with another night full of music planned Friday. The main event is planned for Saturday night with the rock jam band moe., which organizers say is a big deal for Roanoke to host.

The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon is supposed to be larger than ever this year with 2,700 runners expected. That’s more than 800 more than any year prior. It’s considered America’s toughest road marathon with more elevation change than any road race in the U.S.

Downtown Roanoke Inc. marketing and communications specialist Jaime Clark said it’s an important weekend economically.

"It's fantastic. It's a huge weekend for downtown and the Valley as a whole, a ton of people coming in from all around the country and all around the world to see what Roanoke has to offer,” Clark said.

The economic impact to the region has been growing. Last year’s marathon brought in more than $600,000. The event has generated nearly $4 million over the past eight years.

"It gets bigger and bigger every year and paired with all the great music that happens it's a fantastic event for downtown and the whole area,” Clark said.

St. Patrick’s Day and Dickens of a Christmas events are big money makers for the area but the marathon is also a large contributor for the year.

"This time of year it's really a kickoff to what becomes the festival season downtown. It's really a huge way to start for sure,” she said.

Local restaurants like 202 Social House downtown said they’re excited for the extra business.

"It's a big opportunity for us,” General Manager Albert Smith said. “We're hoping that it's going to be a lot of people's first time visiting with us so we can really take care of them, prove ourselves."

The races start at 7:35 a.m. Saturday. There will be some roads closed, including areas in Old Southwest and leading up to Mill Mountain.